Patient’s Heritage Assessment in Nursing

Culture profoundly influences people’s health due to how it affects people’s view on disease, how they seek health care and how they communicate with health care providers. Working in an American, multicultural society, nurses must possess cultural competency in order to provide patient-centered care to meet patient’s needs and expectations. To assess a patient’s cultural heritage is a significant approach to understanding a patient’s cultural background. good Usefulness of Applying a Heritage Assessment

Spector (2000) designed a Heritage Assessment Tool which helps health care providers determine how a person adheres to his or her tradition. I was born and raised in China. When I immigrated to America, I was in my middle age. Therefore, I believed that I’ve instinctively absorbed a great deal of Chinese culture. The Heritage Assessment Tool helped me to understand that the place where people were born and raised is just one of the many factors that influence a people’s cultural formation.

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Many other factors, such as where your parents were born and raised, your religious preference, your friends, etc. affected people’s cultural heritage also. All my parents and grandparents were born and raised in other countries besides China although all of them were Chinese descendants. They had different cultural backgrounds and didn’t strictly observe Chinese tradition when they were living in China and raising me. They didn’t really know how to cook Chinese foods and how to celebrate Chinese traditional holidays.

When my classmates visited my house, they were surprised that we didn’t have bowls and chopsticks, classic Chinese eating utensils, because we used plates and forks. The lack of religious preference was another important factor that leaded us to have fewer cultural heritages. The Heritage Assessment Tool makes me realize that we can’t simply judge a person’s cultural background according to their country of birth and ethnicity. This assessment just assists health providers to understand the extent of how a person adheres to his tribal culture.

They need to further assess the person’s actual beliefs, value, lifestyle, and so on to get the whole picture of how to meet the person’s unique health needs. It is extremely true in the United States due to people’s exposure to other cultures in our multicultural society. There will inevitably be some influenced by other cultures. In short, heritage assessment is the first step of understanding the cultural background of a person. Very good Family Interviews I interviewed three families of different cultures. The first family is of Chinese culture.

Traditional Chinese culture views illness as the result of wrongdoing and karmic retribution. Chinese medicine stresses that prevention is more important than treatment and health results from the balance between body, mind, and spirit, usually expressed as yin and yang. Yin and yang refers to the fact that everything has opposing aspects, like hot and cold, high and low, life and death. Illness stems from the imbalance between yin and yang. They thus emphasize achieving good health through eating a balanced diet, maintaining harmony with family and friends, and exercise such as Tai Chi.

The sport of Tai Chi has been shown is proofed by model medicine tothat it can improve chronic diseases and mental health. Chinese medicine consists of herbal therapies, massages, acupuncture and acupressure, etc. It focuses on the treatment of the causes of illness rather than just the symptoms. Therefore, many Chinese prefer to seek western medicine for acute and/or serious illness and choose Chinese medicine for chronic and/or minor disease. When making health decisions, they consider what is best for the family rather than themselves.

Many Chinese may wear amulets for good health and are scared if health providers remove these articles. ok The second family is an Indian family. Indians value families and frequently contact their relatives. When one member of the family is sick, the entire family, including aunts, uncles and other relatives are involved in making medical decisions for their kin. Like Chinese, Indians believe that health is the harmony between body, mind, and soul. They avoid breaking sacred tribal taboos to maintain health because they hold the belief that god is the driver of one’s life.

Prayer and meditation are important ways to maintain and restore health in their culture. Most Indians are vegetarian and they prefer to use a lot of spices and herbs for food preparation in order to prevent illness. They avoid many “hot” foods during illness. For example, pulses (leguminous crop) should be avoided due to these foods causing “pus” at the wound. In their religious practice, they are used to bathing everyday, so wiping and soaking can not satisfy them even during illness. Yoga is their favorite exercise to maintain health.

Traditional Indian medicines contain Ayuveda, homeopathy, and acupuncture. Ayuveda uses more than a thousand plants and herbs to treat illnesses. ok The last family is from Indonesia. Most Indonesians are Muslims and religion profoundly impacts Indonesian’ value, belief and lifestyles. They believe that ritual or social missteps may lead to illness. Prayer is a very important practice in their everyday life, particularly during times of illness and they do so in order to seek God’s help. Pork and the foods made from pork are prohibited.

Traditional belief is that the mother must overeat during pregnancy. Following childbirth, mother and her baby engage in a practice of “roasting” in which exposure to the warmth of a hearth is done in order to speed the process of recovery for a few weeks. All male infants are circumcised. Indonesian medicine calls healers Dukun. Dukun helps people prevent and treat illnesses through a combination of herbal medicines and tonics called jamu and other superstitious means. Indonesians seldom exercise to improve their health status. good Identifying Common Health Traditions

Due to all three families’ cultures originating from Asia, there are many common traditions among them. They all value family including extended family. The family’s interest is important than the individuals. The whole family takes part in making health decisions and the eldest person in the families is the spokesperson. Three cultures all emphasize the harmony between body, mind and spirit in maintaining health. They believe that prevention is better than treatment and treating the causation of the illness is more important than treating the symptoms.

Compared with western medicine, people from three cultures all believe their traditional medicines have fewer side effects due to using natural plants and herbs to treat illnesses rather than a chemical component. Dietary therapy is important. So, people like to drink herbal tea to improve health. During illness, they often pay attention to what kinds of food can speed the process of restoration and what foods should be avoided. When receiving health service, they wouldn’t show their disagreements with the recommendations of health care professionals due to their respect of authority.

They believe that to keep asking for help is impolite and thus keep silent when suffering from illness during hospitalization. Moreover, women prefer same sex health care providers. Evaluate How Families Subscribe to These Traditions and Practices For Chinese family, the members seldom carry out the traditions and practices due to many reasons. Nowadays, most hospitals in China are using western medicine to treat illness. Western medicine is widely accepted by Chinese. Most Chinese people don’t have religious beliefs, thus they are easily influenced by other cultures and readily assimilate to new environments and cultures.

This is true especially of second and third generations of Chinese immigrants, they are called bananas since their appearances are that of a Chinese, their yellow skin but their inner traits including values, beliefs, worldviews and lifestyles have acculturated to the American culture. Unlike Chinese families, the Indian family tends to maintain their culture when immigrating to other countries. It is highly reflected in traditional family values and dietary habit. They still highly regard the value of extended family and believe that maintaining health is an endeavor by the whole family.

They prepare their diet via traditional methods because they believe their eating habits are healthier compared to western food culture. On the other hand, Indians fall back on tradition treatment firstly and only use modern medicine as the last resort. Like Indian families, the Indonesian family upholds their culture due to their religious belief of Islam. They try to retain their culture as much as possible. Therefore, their lifestyle, especially their habits of maintaining, preventing, and restoring health are in observation of their traditional culture and religion.

Of course they also accept and respect modern medicine at the same time. Very good In conclusion, an increasingly diverse population in America requires nurses to foster cultural competency to handle the complex health care situation. Assessment of patient’s cultural background is vital. Nurses can not simply divide people into different cultures according to their ancestry. Everyone is unique and needed to be assessed in detail and comprehensively. It is extremely true when people are living in a multicultural environment since interaction and penetration among different cultures are inevitable

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Patient’s Heritage Assessment in Nursing. (2016, Jul 27). Retrieved from